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“Productive Networking, Collaboration and Partnerships amongst Stakeholders Accelerates Sustainable Development in the Coconut Sector”

("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 45, Series No. 5, 1 May 2015)

It has been the tradition in many ethnic and tribal communities across the world and very common in the Asia Pacific region to join hands in unity where an emerging challenge is too great for a single person. In the commercial sector some of the fastest growth is as a result of corporate mergers, usually between viable companies, uniting their strengths to sustain challenges of fast changing global market demands and consumer expectations.

It is encouraging to note the increasing number of stakeholders including governments of coconut growing countries creating partnerships to pave way for economic cooperation and development partnerships to enhance collaborations that ensure consistent growth of the coconut industry. The Governments of India and Fiji Islands recently exchanged agreements through which the Fiji Minister for Agriculture formally met with the Coconut Development Board of India to forge working relations with technical assistance, transfer of technology and collaboration in coconut activities in which the benefits would be mutual. The small island state of Fiji has developed advanced technology in production of coconut wood furniture of the highest quality globally known. India seeks collaboration with Fiji in this area whilst Fiji seeks help with good agriculture practices and coconut downstream processing technologies in which India is currently well advanced.

Collaboration for research and development activities have recently been amongst positive discussions the APCC Secretariat continues with important global institutions such as Bioversity International in relation to the operations of COGENT which would be vital in ensuring the future of high quality planting material for coconut farmers. Another positive dialogue the APCC is continuing with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is for the sharing and collaboration with knowledge and technologies with respective networks to benefit coconut farmers in the Pacific Islands. This is an example of a long relationship in good standing that is to be further strengthened to have a greater positive impact for rural families living in the many islands of the ‘south seas’.

The Coconut Research Institute (CRI) of Sri Lanka has responded positively to request by APCC with the proposed international course in coconut plantation management. The course to be endorsed as an APCC training module is expected to be offered from 2016 and covers all aspects of coconut development from crop husbandry including organic coconut cultivation to downstream processing of the many coconut products such as virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coconut cream/milk/powder, coconut honey/sugar/vinegar, coconut fibre products and many more. APCC expects for coconut producing countries to make full use of such opportunity to enable trained coconut technicians working amongst coconut farmers to ensure quality outcomes.

A clear example of a high level international collaboration was demonstrated by a recent gathering of international scientists, mostly breeders, with experienced field officers, industry representatives and government agencies in Papua New Guinea in relation to the threats of the Bogia Coconut Syndrome (BCS), a disease caused by a type of phytoplasma that is damaging coconuts, banana and arecanut with serious threat to the palm oil industry. Under the initiative of the Global Crop Diversity Trust with assistance from ACIAR the array of expert institutions included Bioversity International and CIRAD in France, APCC Secretariat, COGENT, Philippines Coconut Authority, SPC Suva, representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and PNG. In-country organisations included Kokonas Indastri Koperesen, PNG Cocoa & Coconut Institute, National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority, National Agriculture Research Institute, Oil Palm Research Association and the Ramu Agri Industry Oil Palm Division. Important strategies and work plans for the short, medium and long term were produced for implementation in relation to the containment of BCS and the urgent task of moving the collections from the International Coconut Genebank for the South Pacific to a new location in PNG and replication at the proposed sites in Fiji and Samoa at the request of the respective governments.

The Philippines Coconut Authority has offered assistance to and collaboration with the Pacific countries in which the benefits would be mutual particularly in learning and increased knowledge of the important aspects of coconut development be it pest and disease management or the ever increasing challenges of managing for climate change effect that is so common amongst coconut growing communities.
The APCC Technical Working Group made up of eminent persons in the global coconut sector would be meeting in June to deliberate on a number of the proposed agreements for the important collaborations between APCC and the respective international institutions in relation to coconut development.

APCC supports effective collaboration, networking and productive partnerships amongst the important stakeholders that include governments of coconut growing countries, respective national institutions and the international research and development organisation for the benefit of the rural families.

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